One of British Columbia’s most prominent aboriginal leaders wept uncontrollably as he told Canada’s truth and reconciliation commission that he never fully realized the impact of Indian residential schools on his life until he heard survivors recount their own experiences at the hearings.

Grand Chief Ed John, leader of the First Nations Summit, said on Friday that the stories he heard while the commission was in Inuvik, N.W.T., tore open wounds he had not known were there.

“I never realized the depth of my own story until I heard their stories,” said Mr. John, who stood back from the podium, tried to start speaking again, but couldn’t as the tears flowed. “It haunts me.”

Mr. John, who is the leader of B.C.’s largest aboriginal organization, spoke at the opening of the commission’s two-day stop in Victoria, which as many as 2,000 survivors and their families are expected to attend.

The gathering will include traditional ceremonies and survivor gatherings, as well as formal statements as the commission pursues its mandate of helping survivors heal and creating a complete historical record of Canada’s Indian residential school system…

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